[Tom Sachs] Builds His Own Space Program


Born in the mid 60’s, [Tom Sachs] has always been fascinated with space, especially the Apollo program. Just like every kid of his generation, [Tom] imagined himself in Neil Armstrong’s and Buzz Aldrin’s boots, gazing over the lunar surface. He never gave up that dream, and years later as a successful modern artist, he built his own space program.

[Tom Sachs] is a master of bricolage . Taken from the French word for tinkering, Wikipedia defines bricolage as “… the construction or creation of a work from a diverse range of things that happen to be available, or a work created by such a process.”  The term could also describe the junkbox procurement methods we use on many of our own projects.

sachs-lunar-landerBoth [Tom’s] 2007 lunar program and his 2012 Mars program featured his astonishing lunar lander. Built from plywood, found items, and junk, the lander literally made us do a double take the first time we saw it. The attention to detail is incredible. At first glance one could mistake this for a simulator built by NASA themselves. After a few seconds the custom touches start to jump out, such as a “Thank You” garbage door from a fast food restaurant, or a bar stocked with tequila and vodka. The lander’s tools are not just for show either, as the gallery opens with a simulated space mission, which could best be described as a mix of art, improv, and an epic game of make-believe for adults.

[Tom’s] installations also include mission control, which in his Mars piece consisted of a dizzying array of screens, controls and an 80’s boombox. Dressed in the white shirt, thin tie, and horn rimmed glasses we’ve come to associate with NASA engineers of the 60’s, this is where [Tom] works. He truly is the engineer of this mission.

Editor’s Note [Tom] and the entire hacker community at large have a chance to go to space by entering The Hackaday Prize!

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Building a Cessna 172 Simulator


As anyone who has downloaded Microsoft Flight Simulator X or X-Plane knows, piloting an aircraft using a keyboard and mouse just doesn’t work. If you’re going to get in to the world of flight simulators, it’s best to go all-in. [Stevenarango] knows this and built a great Cessna 172 cockpit for his personal use.

All the gauges, instrument panels, and controls are from Saitek, one of the best manufacturers of home/hobbyist flight controls. The instruments were mounted on a 5mm piece of PVC, which is mounted on a C172 cockpit-sized wooden frame. All the instruments, from the throttle, pedals, yoke, trim wheel, individual LCD steam gauges, and multi panel are driven by USB.

As for the actual simulation, [Steven] is using a fairly powerful computer running Flight Simulator X with dual monitors – one for the glass cockpit and another for the windscreen. It’s not quite the same scale as building a 737 in your garage, but it’s more than sufficient for an awesome flight simulator experience at home.

Remote Control FPV cockpit


FPV flying, for how awesome it actually is, still consists of fiddling around with a remote control transmitter and either wearing video goggles or squinting into a screen. Awesome, yes, but not as cool as [Brett Hays]’s enclosed cockpit ground station. It’s a trailerable flight sim that allows you to have the same experience of flying an aircraft over your local terrain without actually leaving the ground.

The centerpiece for this build is a 42 inch flat screen TV that was picked up for $160. This was placed at the front of a large plywood and 2×2 box along with a computer joystick, throttle, and rudder controls.

The pots inside the controls needed to be switched out to match the resistance of the ones inside an old Futaba transmitter. From there, completing the the cockpit was just a matter of fabricating a few panels for a video switcher, gear retract lever, flaps. and RC radio settings.

It’s a truly amazing build and when placed on a trailer towed by [Brett]’s jeep, has the potential to be the closest thing to flying a manned aircraft you can get without a pilot’s license.

Videos of the cockpit in action below.

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The Nibbler: a 4-bit CPU built with 7400 logic


Maybe we shouldn’t say “built” since [Steve Chamberlin] hasn’t actually heated up his iron yet. From the finished schematic above that is puzzling at first, until you realize the scope of the project. His Nibbler implements a 4-bit CPU using 7400 logic chips. Because he’s come up with the architecture himself he’s taking a lot of steps to check all of his work before committing to a PCB.

We linked to his category for the project which is still in progress. Most recently he wrote a program to prove that it’ll run on the hardware. That’s a feat considering this is still just a design idea. It was made possible because he wrote a simulator based on the design. The C++ tool simulates data and control buses and features a full set of debugging tools.

Careful testing of the design before the build is the best possible way to go. The simulator and debugging tools will be useful for software development even after the hardware is built. And testing before wiring is a must as these things get out of control quickly in terms of soldering complexity.

[via Dangerous Prototypes]

UK Hackerspace builds mobile spaceship disaster simulator


A spaceship simulator sounds fun. But a spaceship disaster simulator is pure win. Members of the London Hack Space poured their hearts and souls into this build which they call the LHS Bikeshed. Now they’re taking the show on the road, letting attendees of Maker Faires all over the UK try their hand at beating the Kobayashi Maru disaster simulation.

The real question is how do you take your simulator on the road with you? You build it in an old camper (or caravan as the Brits call it). The towable sleeping quarters were gutted to make room for the well-crafted command center seen above. The demonstration video also shows off some bulkhead doors which open to reveal a wiring mess that must be fixed to prevent a disaster. Not only does the physical build really sell the concept, but the audio and video produced for the simulator look fantastic too. The link above is a recent post, but you should dig through their archives see multiple steps during the project build.

It makes us thing we should keep going with our VW Bus hacking.

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Roller coaster simulator for the Redbull creation contest

[Dave] and [Martin], otherwise known as Ballistic Locomotive, sent in their entry for the Redbull creation contest. It’s a roller coaster simulator that can emulate the twists, turns, and drops of a roller coaster in your living room.

The simulator is built around a plywood roller coaster car mounted on a 2 DOF table. With a few first-person roller coaster videos and the speed, roll, and tilt data provided. Ballistic Locomotive had a functioning roller coaster simulator.

Of course, watching a 1st-person shot of a roller coaster just isn’t the same experience without the wind blowing through your hair. To simulate this aspect of a roller coaster ride, so the Ballistic Locomotive team connected a relay to the bullduino and connected a carpet drying fan.

Not only did Ballistic Locomotive build something awesome with their bullduino, they also manage to make a great ride for one of the builder’s son’s birthday party this weekend. You can check out the demo and a few videos after the break.

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Installing military hardware in a home flight simulator

The cockpit of an F-16 Fighting Falcon features a small 3-inch display that monitors and tracks hostile aircraft and missiles, friendlies, and the current target. This Radar Warning Receiver is vitally important to pilots in combat, so [Mike] decided to add one to his homebuilt F-16 simulator that runs Falcon 4.0.

The RWR displays threats as symbols that are usually generated by tens of thousands of dollars worth of military hardware. [Mike] figured a $7 PIC microcontroller would work just as well and set about designing vector graphics that would fit on a single chip.

[Mike] had the graphics displaying correctly on an oscilloscope, but that’s a far cry from the from the surplus RWR display he picked up. Although the display is a simple CRT, the original designers of the radar warning receiver thought it necessary to put the deflection amplifiers in another part of the airplane. After building a pair of 30 Watt amplifiers, [Mike] could finally display more than a single dot on the display.

After all was said and done, [Mike] has a wonderful radar warning display that fits into his F-16 cockpit perfectly. While it’s not quite a 737 in a garage, we’ve got to respect someone who takes surplus avionics and makes them work. Check out [Mike]’s display in action after the break.

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